CALIFORNIA BRIEFING / SANTA MARIA

A fire roaring through the Los Padres National Forest about 26 miles east of Santa Maria has grown, charring more than 40,000 acres and forcing some residents to flee.

Authorities issued evacuation orders Thursday that cover about 150 homes and ranches, most in the Cottonwood Canyon area. About 1,600 firefighters are attacking the blaze, which started Saturday. The cause is unknown. Firefighting efforts have been hampered by inaccessible terrain and volatile winds.

-- Steve Chawkins

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